You won't find the 1994-95 UCLA team on any list of the most talented college basketball teams in history. All of the Bruins starters were drafted, but each played more overseas than in the NBA.
The Bruins didn't blow out any ranked opponents that season, either. In fact, they needed a game-winning shot at the buzzer to get out of the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
But the Bruins did excel in the area that matters most: winning.
Their 32-1 record was the best among the teams selected to Rivals.com's Top 10 Teams of the 64 Era. The Bruins closed the season on a 19-game winning streak.
"We had three great seniors, Tyus (Edney), George (Zidek) and Ed (O'Bannon)" said Jim Harrick, who coached at UCLA from 1988-1996. "They set the tone. They didn't allow anyone to goof off. If someone was sulking about not getting enough playing time, they jumped him hard. We had great leadership. We had great chemistry. That team had a special bond."
That bond started with O'Bannon, a lanky and versatile forward who would make just about any possible play needed to keep the Bruins from losing. He led the team in scoring (20.4 ppg), rebounding (8.3 rpg), 3-point field goal percentage (43.3 percent) and free-throw percentage (78.5 percent). He also collected numerous national player of the year honors.
"Ed was very shy when he first got to school, but I knew he had great hunger," said Harrick, whose 1993-94 squad had been upset by Tulsa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. "After getting beat during his junior year, he turned into the team leader I envisioned."
The Bruins' second major scoring weapon came in the form of Edney, an undersized point guard who was listed at 5 feet 10.
What Edney - who received the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award given annually to the nation's top player shorter than 6 feet - lacked in stature, he made up for with blinding speed.
1994-1995 UCLA roster
12 Toby Bailey (G, 6-5, 185, Fr., Los Angeles)
30 Kevin Dempsey (F, 6-6, 210, Jr., San Jose, Calif.)
5 Cameron Dollar (G, 6-1, 173, So., Atlanta)
11 Tyus Edney (G, 5-10, 152, Sr.,, Long Beach, Calif.)
50 omm'A Givens (C, 6-10, 235, Fr., Aberdeen, Wash.)
52 J.R. Henderson (F, 6-9, 215, Fr., Bakersfield, Calif.)
54 Kris Johnson (F, 6-4, 220, Fr., Los Angeles)
24 Bob Myers (F, 6-6, 210, So., Alamo, Calif.)
35 Ike Nwankwo (C, 6-11, 234, So., Houston)
13 Charles O'Bannon (F, 6-7, 205, So., Lakewood, Calif.)
31 Ed O'Bannon (F, 6-8, 217, Sr., Lakewood, Calif.)
25 George Zidek (C, 7-0, 250, Sr., Prague, Czech Republic)
That was never more the case than in the second round of the 1995 NCAA Tournament. With Missouri up 74-73 and 4.8 seconds left, Edney dribbled the length of the court, used a nifty behind-the-back dribble to avoid a midcourt trap, and banked in a tough leaner at the buzzer. It is one of the most famous plays in NCAA Tournament history.
"He was a great, great point guard," Harrick said of Edney, who averaged a team-high 6.8 assists and 2.3 steals a game. "He ran the offense and the defense. I never saw anyone block his shot even as little as he was. He absolutely dominated in the NCAA Tournament. Of course, there was the play against Missouri, but he also made three or four of the greatest plays in the other games."
The 7-foot Zidek (10.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg), a native of the Czech Republic, wasn't nearly as flashy as Edney or O'Bannon. However, he provided a steady force on the interior.
Overall: 32-1; Pac-10: 17-1
Cal State Northridge
Cal State Fullerton
at Oregon St.
at Arizona St.
at Washington St.
Fla. Int'l %
Mississippi St. ^
Oklahoma St. *
$—Forfeited by California
%—NCAA West Regional, Boise, Idaho
^—NCAA West Regional Semifinals, Oakland, Calif.
&—NCAA West Regional Finals, Oakland, Calif.
*—NCAA National Semifinals, Seattle
**—NCAA Championship Game, Seattle
The rest of the starting lineup was rounded out by freshman guard Toby Bailey and Charles O'Bannon (Ed's brother).
"Toby was a great medium-range shooter," Harrick said. "Teams that double-teamed or trapped us played right into Toby's strength.
"Charles was a terrific defender. He used to love to block 3-point shots. It seemed like he'd get about one a game. You know how hard that is to do?"
The starters didn't get much rest. Sophomore point guard Cameron Dollar and freshman forward J.R. Henderson were the other Bruins who played regularly. Dollar is now an assistant at Washington under coach Lorenzo Romar, who was an assistant at UCLA from 1992-96.
Using such a short bench was by design.
"I learned from (former UCLA) coach (John) Wooden that seven was the optimum number," Harrick said.
"In the 1975 championship game against Kentucky (the Bruins won 92-85) he only played six. I used six on my last team at Georgia. In fact, my best year at Pepperdine was with a six-man rotation."
That theory was put to the ultimate test in the 1995 national title game.
Edney sprained his right wrist in the semifinals against Oklahoma State.
The Bruins were set to face defending champion Arkansas, a tremendously deep squad that thrived on wearing down opponents with a constant wave of substitutes and full-court pressure.
Edney played just three minutes, limiting UCLA to just six players for most of the game. The Bruins withstood the Arkansas pressure and prevailed 89-78.
Dollar played a career-high 36 minutes and looked like a poised veteran for most of the night. He dished out eight assists and turned the ball over just three times.
Ed O'Bannon and Bailey played perhaps the best games of their careers. O'Bannon scored a game-high 30 points and ripped down a career-high 17 rebounds.
Bailey scored 26 points, with 11 of his 12 field goals coming from inside the arc. He also came away with nine boards.
"UCLA played a very, very good game," Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson said.
"You would have thought it would be a blessing for us with their point guard out and our pressure, but they just played lights out."
Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.